Thursday, March 21, 2013

Oh, Fractions

Follow my blog with Bloglovin We just finished our unit on adding and subtracting, and now we are beginning the unit on multiplying and dividing fractions.  While my kids really showed amazing progress in the last topic, I can see that some of them are getting the steps confused.  When do I need common denominators?  When do I divide across?  How do I convert to a mixed number?  There really is so much for them to do and so many little spots they can make a mistake!

At the end of each math lesson, there is a "quick check" {usually 3 multiple choice and one extended response} to assess the student's mastery of the learning objective.  After reading Wild About Fifth Grade's post on All Things Upper Elementary about exit slips, I've cut back on the quick checks in favor of  exit slips.  Yesterday, I taught my kids to multiply fractions and required them to simplify their answers.  I gave them a two question exit slip and could immediately see that all of the students were able to multiply the fractions, but 6 of them were really confused about how to reduce fractions vs. improper fractions.

Luckily, twice a week, we have a tutoring period after the regular dismissal.  I used this time yesterday to address this confusion.  While the rest of my class worked on spring math centers (even though it's snowing here!) and ELA task cards, I worked with this group of six to get them back on track.

I quickly whipped up some cards for them to sort into piles of "fractions" and "improper fractions."

After they sorted the fractions, I modeled how to reduce regular fractions by dividing across by the greatest common factor.  Then I modeled how to reduce an improper fraction by dividing the numerator by the denominator.

Sloppy.  Sorry!

We worked through a few different examples together and then I had them work in pairs to reduce the fractions they had listed on their charts.

Great success!  My kids were able to simplify the fractions  by the end of the tutoring period and I saw them correctly reduce their fractions today during math workshop.  It's so satisfying to be able to immediately address an issue and see that progress right away!

If your students are having a similar issue with reducing fractions and improper fractions, click HERE to grab a copy of 8 fraction cards, a recording sheet and a "how to" chart for your kids to complete :-)


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